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Baldwin backs Hagel; Phoenix may ban discrimination
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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New U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin supports former Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary, according to . Hagel made a notoriously anti-gay statement in the 1990s regarding then-ambassadorial candidate James Hormel, but has since apologized. Baldwin said she had met with Hagel, and praised him for "the humility to admit mistakes and learn from them." On Feb. 14, Senate Republicans temporarily stalled Hagel's nomination, denying him the 60 votes he needed, NBC News reported.

Phoenix, Ariz., may ban anti-gay discrimination, more than 20 years after the city rejected such a proposal, according to . Mayor Greg Stanton has fast-tracked reforms to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The changes would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as restaurants and hotels. The city council is slated to vote on the ordinance Feb. 26; the last time the city considered amending its anti-discrimination laws was 1992.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in United States v. Windsor, a lawsuit before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), according to Business Wire. CREW's brief, co-authored with George Washington University Law School Professor Alan Morrison, points out the effects DOMA has on ethics, tax and bankruptcy laws by recognizing only opposite-sex marriages.

Police think they have the man who killed at least one of the three gay New York men who have been murdered in recent weeks, according to . Lleuyel Garcia, 23, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, robbery, criminal possession of stolen property and tampering with physical evidence related to the killing of Joseph Benzinger, a 54-year-old sanitation worker found dead at Queens' Crown Motor Inn. Two other men—David Rangel, 53, and Charles Romo, 48—have been found dead recently.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has decided not to run for re-election next year, according to USA Today. Lautenberg, 89, is the Senate's oldest member and the last World War II veteran serving in that chamber. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement that "Lautenberg has been a steadfast advocate and longtime leader on issues of LGBT equality in the Senate. During his tenure, he was a strong supporter of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; opposed the codification of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law in 1993; and strongly supported the repeal in 2010."

In Nebraska, a judge has rescheduled the sentencing date for Charlie Rogers, a woman who pleaded no contest to faking an anti-gay hate crime, according to the Sioux City Journal. Rogers will now face sentencing on March 14 in Lancaster County Court. Rogers was charged after she claimed she was attacked by three men who carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and stomach; authorities later charged her with filing a false report, a misdemeanor. She could receive up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

President Obama is facing increased pressure to sign an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity after 37 senators sent a letter to the him urging him to act, according to . The senators—all supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—wrote to Obama, "You are in a position to protect millions of American workers immediately by including sexual orientation and gender identity alongside long-standing anti-discrimination protections."

PFLAG National will honor NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings (Straight for Equality in Sports) as well as award-winning author John Irving (Straight for Equality in Literature) at the fifth annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala April 4 in New York City, according to a press release. Ayanbadejo and Kluwe have been staunch marriage-equality supporters; in 2012, Irving released the book One Person, in which "the hero of this novel is a bisexual man [and] the people he heroizes are two transgender women."

In a statement, Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson praised the introduction of the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, the Senate companion bill to the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013. The act would change the definition of "spouse" in four areas of U.S. Code related to recognition, support, and benefits for married servicemembers and veterans. Robinson said, in part, "Equality for LGBT troops and their families is a national security issue." Morgan, a chief warrant officer in the New Hampshire Army National Guard who fought to help her wife to receive benefits, died Feb. 10 of breast cancer at age 48.

Speculation is growing that President Obama will name gay California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) as the next labor secretary, according to . If chosen, Perez would become the first out person named to a cabinet level post in a presidential administration. His departure from Sacramento would also set off a scramble for his successor in the powerful legislative post Perez has held since March 1, 2010. He is the first out person to be Assembly speaker in California, and one of the few LGBT legislators nationally to serve in the top leadership post of their respective legislative chambers.

Owing creditors more than $750,000, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and announced it is going out of business 30 years after it was founded in 1983, according to the Washington Blade. Last October, Frank Oldham, who served as NAPWA's president and CEO since 2006, announced his resignation effective Dec. 31; however, Oldham left his post in November, raising speculation that he was forced out by the board.

The percentage of adults in the United States who identify as LGBT ranges from 1.7 percent in North Dakota to 5.1 percent in Hawaii and 10 percent in the District of Columbia, according to findings from a new study released by Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates and Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport. The study is the largest population-based survey ever conducted that includes measurement of LGBT identification. Most states are within 2 percentage points of the nationwide average of 3.5 percent.

On Feb. 15, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued comprehensive guidelines that aim to ensure Massachusetts public schools comply with the new transgender non-discrimination law that bans discrimination against transgender students in all school programs and activities, according to a press release. Among the areas the guidelines address are the proper use of names and pronouns; privacy and confidentiality; and physical education and athletic participation.

An openly gay Missouri teenager has won the right to attend high school prom with his boyfriend after threatening legal action, according to NBC News. Stacy Dawson, a 17-year-old senior at Scott County Central High School in Sikeston, had been told last year that he couldn't bring his boyfriend. On Valentine's Day, Dawson had the Southern Poverty Law Center send a letter to Scott County Central High and the school district, threatening legal action. One day later, the district said it had removed a line in the school handbook that reportedly prevented Dawson from bringing his boyfriend.

In Ohio, Pomeroy Mayor Mary McAngus has resigned over accusations that she repeatedly called a gay police officer "queer" in front of his colleagues and created a hostile work environment, Fox News reported. Police Chief Mark Proffitt told the council this week that McAngus, 78, referred to Officer Kyle Calendine as "queer" in front of other officers and dispatchers. He says that at one point she said, "I don't like a queer working for the village."

For the first time, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has decided to allow the same-sex spouse of a military veteran to be buried in a U.S. national cemetery, ABC News reported. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has given permission for retired Air Force officer Linda Campbell, 66, to bury the ashes of her same-sex spouse Nancy Lynchild at Williamette National Cemetery in Oregon. Lynchild, 64, died in late December of breast cancer.

Truth Wins Out (TWO), an organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism, offered to help educate eHarmony co-founder Neil Clark Warren about gays and lesbians after he made what TWO calls "a series of ignorant comments," according to a press release. Warren recently told Yahoo! Finance, "I think this issue of same-sex marriage within the next five to 15 years will be no issue anymore. We've made too much of it." He also said, "At the very best, [homosexuality has] been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live." TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen responded, "If Clark Warren believes that the lives of gay people are inherently painful, it is probably because the homosexuals who attend his church are stigmatized, treated poorly, and made to feel inferior."

Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has joined Fox News, according to . Brown will be appearing on the Sean Hannity Show Wednesdays in prime time. In November, Brown lost the Senate race to Elizabeth Warren; he recently decided not to run for John Kerry's seat when Kerry was appointed secretary of state. Brown will joining former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich as new contributor to Fox, as Sarah Palin and Dick Morris have left the network.

Meanwhile, David Axelrod, former White House advisor and senior strategist for President Obama's 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, is joining MSNBC and NBC News as a senior political analyst, according to the Chicago Tribune. Axelrod—who shaved his trademark mustache in December live on the "Morning Joe" program after hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski helped him raise $1 million for his epilepsy charity—will be joining his counterpart from the 2008 McCain campaign, Steve Schmidt, also an analyst at MSNBC.

In Indiana, gay medic Timothy McCormick was killed when a female driver struck an ambulance in which he was riding, Gay Star News reported. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said, "This is a terrible loss for Indianapolis EMS and our city. Our thoughts and prayers are with our public safety community and with the families." In 2011, McCormick created an "It Gets Better" video in which he identified himself as a gay "Eagle Scout, college student and professional EMT."

The Respect for Marriage Coalition released a memo from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research summarizing key findings from the first public opinion poll of 2013 on marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, according to a press release. Among the findings are that 75 percent of voters believe that it is a Constitutional right for every American, including gays and lesbians, to marry, and that nearly two-thirds believe that having same-sex couples legally marry would not have no or much impact on them at all.

Linda Johnson Rice, the publisher of Chicago-based Ebony and Jet magazines, called for marriage equality in an editorial the Chicago Tribune published, according to the Human Rights Campaign. "Fairness and equality means that what you are never limits who you can be," Rice wrote. "We know in our hearts that none of us get ahead when some of us are stuck with second-class status." Illinois is currently deciding whether to legalize marriage equality.

In Michigan, Trenton police arrested a man after citizens complained he was seen sucking a "flesh-colored dildo" at a local park, according to . A redacted arrest report The Smoking Gun obtained stated that authorities received a 911 call reporting a man was in a silver car parked inside Elizabeth Park, and allegedly performing fellatio to what looked like a sex toy. The man, 67, was charged with a misdemeanor, and the dildo was confiscated as evidence.

A fund has rescued nearly 200 LGBT undocumented young people from the threat of deportation, according to an press release. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund launched the "LGBT DREAMers Fund" at the Liberty Hill Foundation to help LGBT DREAMers pay the $465 in fees required to apply for relief under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. LGBT DREAMers who would like assistance from the fund may apply at

A variety of events will take place around the world Feb. 23 to mark out U.S. Army private Bradley Manning spending 1,000 days behind bars. According to, Manning is accused of leaking state secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history. Originally charged in June 2010 with leaking classified information, 22 additional charges against Manning were announced in March 2011, including "aiding the enemy"; and multiple counts of theft of public records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud.

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